On May 17, the NBA will hold the annual NBA Draft lottery, determining the top 14 picks of the NBA Draft. The odds of getting the first pick decrease as you go further down the lottery, going from 14% at the worst record (the Houston Rockets) to 0.5% for the best lottery team (the Cleveland Cavaliers). Until the lottery is held, the top 14 picks are unknown. The NBA Draft will be held on June 23, and chances are, there will be many moves made before and during the draft.
For the sake of this article, I will assume there are no trades at all and the current odds for the draft lottery is how the lottery will shape out, even if it is highly likely that we will see changes from the May 17 to June 23. The first overall pick will go to the Houston Rockets, so let’s get started.
Houston Rockets – Chet Holmgren, 1st
With the 1st pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets select Chet Holmgren out of Gonzaga. He was one of the best players in college last season, averaging 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 3.7 blocks per game, winning the WCC DPOY and WCC Rookie of the Year. The top 3 picks of the NBA Draft, as of now, are not written in stone, and the top 3 can be different depending on who you ask. Personally, I think Holmgren is the best bet for the 1st pick. Christian Wood is already 26 years old, and in my opinion, is not the long-term answer for the Rockets.
A pick-and-roll partner with Kevin Porter Jr. or Jalen Green would really help the Rockets, and a paint protector would also do wonders for the rebuilding Houston team. There are concerns about Holmgren’s muscle, as he only weighs 190 lbs, while also being 7 feet tall. According to Multicare.org, the average weight for a 7’0″ male is between 225-275 lbs, and Holmgren is not even 200 lbs. However, one of the best players in the league right now was around the same weight as a rookie, so Holmgren does have some hope when it comes to weight and muscle, and he’s still so young.
Orlando Magic – Jabari Smith Jr., 2nd
At this point, the Magic could either select Jabari Smith Jr. or Paolo Banchero. In my opinion, Smith is a better option, considering his skill and fit for the Magic. Orlando already has Franz Wagner, Jonathan Isaac, and Wendell Carter Jr. at the 3, 4, and 5 respectively. Smith can play the 3 or 4, considering his lateral quickness and interior defense. Banchero can realistically only play the 4, maybe the 5 if you run a small-ball lineup. Smith is also a better perimeter shooter than Banchero, but not as great of a finisher. To be honest, both are very similar in skill and in potential, in my opinion, so both can definitely be an option for Orlando, but I think Smith fits the roster more than Banchero does.
Maybe the Magic trade Jonathan Isaac for someone younger or more offensively-focused, but Isaac could be in Orlando’s rebuild, as he is only 24 years old and is under contract for a few more years, and is also one of the best defenders in the league, both on the perimeter and paint. Isaac also has not played for Orlando since the bubble, which has been around 2 years. Maybe the ACL injury was worse than expected, or maybe he just does not want to play. Either way, I could see the Magic keeping Isaac for the future, but also trading him as well.
Detroit Pistons – Paolo Banchero, 3rd
Like I said, the top 3 of the draft is mostly in a lock on who it will be, but not the order. As I mentioned in another article, Jerami Grant is not the best player, statistically speaking, for the Pistons to play at the 3 or 4 long term. If the Pistons draft Banchero, I would definitely expect a team to trade for him, as he is a solid scorer. Banchero has one of the best ceilings in this draft, in my opinion. He was one of the best finishers in college last season, and definitely has good reasons on why he could be the 1st or 2nd pick, and not the 3rd. However, I believe that the fit for Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith’s outweigh Banchero’s fit on either the Rockets or Magic.
A potential young lineup for Detroit could be Killian Hayes (20 years old) at the 1, Cade Cunningham (20 years old) at the 2, Saddiq Bey (23 years old) at the 3, Banchero (19 years old) at the 4, and Isaiah Stewart (20 years old) at the center. But, I don’t expect Hayes to start, as I think the Pistons see Cade Cunningham as their point guard of the future, and might start someone like Hamidou Diallo at the 2 instead. Even still, the fit and talent would benefit the young Pistons roster, and Banchero is the best player available at 3.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Jaden Ivey, 4th
You may be thinking, why would the Thunder draft another guard? They already have their franchise cornerstones in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, both being guards. However, at this high in the draft, you take best player available, and I think Ivey is the 4th-best player in this draft.
Look at the Sacramento Kings, they had two promising guards in De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, but they used the 9th overall pick in last year’s draft on another guard, Davion Mitchell. Was that the right pick? Yes, I think Mitchell will be a good player in this league someday, and so could Ivey. He could be the 6th man for the Thunder while Giddey would be the facilitator and Shai would be the primary scorer.
Chances are, I think OKC would trade this pick if they landed at 4, considering a lot of teams would want Ivey’s services on their roster, and they could get a good return for the pick. They could trade up to land one of the top 3 players, considering their excess of draft capital. They could also trade down, as the players lower in the draft do have a better fit towards their roster. Until the lottery is announced, the Thunder, and every other team for that matter, don’t know what will happen.